By Scott Rosts, Niagra-on-the-Lake Town Courier
NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE — The Canadian Polish Congress is hoping to make a milestone commemoration even more special with the help of the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds.
Each year the Canadian Polish Congress holds a pilgrimage in Niagara-on-the-Lake to commemorate the efforts of the Polish, Canadian, and American volunteers who joined the Polish army units formed in our region to help Poland in its struggle to regain independence in 1918. With the 100th anniversary pilgrimage being planned for June, 11, 2017, the Canadian Polish Congress is hoping for a flyby by the Snowbirds.
As part of their request, organizers must seek approval from the Town to permit the aircrafts to fly as low as 500 feet at the beginning or end of the ceremony in the Polish cemetery in Old Town.
Councillors approved the request, which still needs to go to council next Monday night to be ratified, but not unanimously. Coun. Jamie King said while he supports the event and thinks it’s “a wonderful idea in principle”, he can’t support the flyby.
“I am uncomfortable approving a 500-foot fly over a residential area. I think that’s unusual,” said King, noting displays are more appropriate over fields, bodies of water and unpopulated areas.
Coun. Paolo Miele noted, however, that there are many aircrafts that come into the Niagara District Airport under 1,000 feet on a daily basis.
Lord Mayor Pat Darte said he had a meeting on the proposed flyby on Monday, and there is a “very regimented” manner the Snowbirds follow, adding there wouldn’t be any aerial maneuvers, just a simple flyover.
“I understand your concern but I think … it’s a pretty straight-forward request,” said Darte. “I learned everything about how they do it, what they do. The rules are so stringent for these guys, it’s impossibly virtual to fail.”
Should the town provide final approval the Canadian Polish Congress can finalize its request for the flyby. Should the Snowbirds flyby be approved, the town says it will notify the residents about the activities and the potential noise resulting from the flyby next June.
The Snowbirds recently visited Niagara-on-the-Lake in September. The iconic flying team did a photo shoot over Niagara Falls and did flyovers throughout the region, before making a brief stop at the Niagara District Airport. At the time, Darte said he had hoped to welcome the Snowbirds back to town in 2017.